David Adamson, the man/ beat boy/freak folk/ hazed-out shaman behind Asthmatic Kitty’s Jookabox knows something about drums and bass. His reckless, primordial rhythms perforate the negative spaces of his music like steady cacophonies of jack hammers working simultaneously on parallel city streets.
Separately, the isolated layers of percussion may only appear to be dumb, blunt objects, but as Adamson’s compositions begin to coalesce (first beat, then song, then album) Jookabox’s unique mash-up of gypsy folk frenzy and hip-hop kick drums careen beautifully out of control.
With Dead Zone Boys, the group’s second full-length out November 3rd, Jookabox merge their kitchen sink aesthetic with nightmarish imagery and atmosphere, providing what is basically the musical equivalent of Raising Arizona and Night of the Living Dead having a baby: a manic, gleefully insane journey through a warped vision of America that sees the living and undead alike desperately groping at some kind of hedonistic pleasure. From song to song, it’s an album prone to outbursts of both half-crazed laughter and sinister threats, happily aware of its own emotional/motivational imbalances.
“You Cried Me” has Adamson shamelessly announcing against a barn-burning folk bounce and devil may care howl “EVIL, in the first degree, but you still smile and welcome me.” It’s a macabre sentiment for sure but the musical delivery provides a sort of jovial awareness that the narrator is clearly out of control. By the end of the song, he’s confiding “I can’t let you do it, you should go, there’s not much time.”
“Phantom Don’t Go” provides the most direct statement of purpose for the album’s themes. It begins harshly with an industrial throb and wisp before Adamson stutters “Ph-ph-ph-phantom, don’t ever leave, I need your powers if I’m gonna succeed.” I like to think that phantom proves to be a fairly elusive muse, whispering vague commands into an impressionable ear before vanishing into the dark corners of a midnight bedroom.
Jookabox’s show at the Thunderbird Cafe Wednesday is being billed as the after party for label mate Sufjan Stevens’ BQE being performed by Asthmatic Kitty’s Osso at the Warhol earlier in the evening.